Wet Weather Doesn't Slow Auburn's Practice

A report on Auburn's practices features news, notes and quotes as the Tigers prepare for Friday's game at Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--Gene Chizik said a heavy rain shower during Tuesday evening's football practice was no problem. In fact, the Auburn head coach noted that it was probably a good thing for his Tigers as they prepare for Friday's game at Alabama.

"The weather was a little distracting out there, which was good we stayed and practiced out in some weather conditions that were not very favorable," Chizik said. "I thought that really helped us focus in on the practice. I was proud of the way our team prepared and stayed focused through the whole practice."

Chizik has said the workouts for the rivalry game going back to the off-week have been good and that didn't change on Tuesday under the lights at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "A lot of energy and we have one more good day of preparation tomorrow (Wednesday) and we will be ready to play," he stated.

Friday's game will kick off shortly after 1:30 p.m. CST at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa as the 11-0 Tigers, champions of the SEC West, take on 9-2 Alabama.

"You never know what the weather conditions are going to be on game day," Chizik said in explaining why he was glad the Tigers were able to practice in the rain during the workout that lasted an hour and a half.

"We tried to block out the distraction of the weather and focus on what we need to do," he added. "There was some means to the madness there. We felt our team needed to have one of those type of days. It has been a while since we had the opportunity to do that so I think it was helpful."

Chizik said with the university having no classes this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday that has been helpful in allowing players to come to the football complex and watch video of their opponent.

On Tuesday the Football Writers Association of America announced that Chizik is one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award as the nation's top college football coach. The winner will be announced Dec. 6th.

The other finalists for the award are Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, Oregon's Chip Kelly, TCU's Gary Patterson and Boise State's Chris Petersen.

Chizik said he heard about the honor, which he said he considers a team award. "To pin that on one guy or to think one guy is responsible for that is really not true," he said. "It is all the assistant coaches. It is all the players. Those are all team awards and I think we all try to look at it like that.

"When you have success a lot of people are brought up for different awards so it is nice for our players or coaches, whoever might get recognized, but by no means and no way is that award that directly reflects on one guy in my opinion."

Auburn will head to Tuscaloosa trying to snap a two-game winning streak for Alabama in the series in which Auburn has won seven of the last 10 games.

Wide receiver Kodi Burns said he didn't realize how big the Auburn-Alabama rivalry was before he got to Auburn, but the senior from Fort Smith, Ark., said he is fully aware of the intensity of the game on the field and how important it is to the fans.

Burns said he believes Auburn's large senior class, which includes 24 players, has helped the Tigers move up the polls this season to their current spot of No. 2 behind Oregon.

"In my last year it is great to see we are 11-0 now with a chance to finish up strong," said Burns, who added, "I think the senior class has really shown the guys how to win games through adversity."

Kodi Burns is a former starting quarterback for the Tigers.

Burns, who made the conversion from quarterback to receiver last year, said that fellow Arkansas native Gus Malzahn, the Tigers' offensive coordinator, has played a key role in the team's success this year. The Tigers are leading the SEC in rushing, total offense and scoring.

"He prepares like nobody I have ever seen before," Burns said. "He is a great coach, a players' coach, and he is always going to give us the best chance to win."

Burns said that having Malzahn on the Auburn sideline gives the Tigers major confidence. "The way he schemes things up, the way he watches film, the way he knows what people are going to try to do to us really dictates games...Obviously we have won a lot of games in the fourth quarter because of his knowledge of what teams are going to do us."

Commenting on the offense's development since the start of the season, Burns said, "I think we have progressed a lot because at the beginning of the season when we had quite a few close games. In the second half of the season we have started finishing games out like we should offensively. We just have to keep going like that at that same pace--just keep finishing out games and doing what we do."

Chizik said that one of the reasons that Malzahn has been successful as a high school coach and now as a college coach is that the offensive coordinator is his work ethic.

"He studies the game and is very creative and he is as hard of a worker as I have ever been around," Chizik said. "The combination of all of those things certainly is going to lend itself into a guy who is successful.

"He pays a lot of attention to details and the things that matter," Chizik said. "He buries himself in the game. I think that to be really, really good at your trade that is what you have to do as an offensive or defensive coordinator."

In other news and notes:

*Through 11 games the Auburn offense leads the nation in average yards per play at 7.60. The Tigers also lead the nation in average per rushing attempt at 6.53 yards per carry and per pass attempt at 10.24 yards.

*Unlike other games this year there won't be a Tiger Walk because the Auburn team buses will unload in a fenced off area at Bryant-Denny Stadium that fans don't have access to, which is a similar arrangement to the visitors' unloading area behind the north end zone at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

*This year's Auburn-Alabama matchup will be the sixth time that both teams have come into the game ranked in the AP Top 10, but just the first time since 1994 when fourth-ranked Alabama defeated No. 6 Auburn 21-14.

The first time the two teams met as Top 10 teams was 1963 when the ninth-ranked Tigers defeated No. 6 Alabama 10-8. The next matchup was in 1971 when No. 3 Alabama defeated No. 5 Auburn 31-7. The next year No. 9 Auburn defeated No. 2 Alabama 17-16. In 1974 No. 2 Alabama got by No. 7 Auburn 17-13.

*Auburn has 54 players on its roster from the state of Alabama with players expected to start on Friday against the Crimson Tide. That group includes Zach Clayton, Zac Etheridge, Nick Fairley, Mike McNeil, Ryan Pugh, Demond Washington and Terrell Zachery.

*Stopping Alabama's talented running backs is expected to be a key to Auburn's success on Friday. Auburn did a good job last year shutting down Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Going into last year's game the Tigers were allowing 169.7 rushing yards per game. This season the Tigers, who are ranked second in SEC rushing defense, are allowing opponents 111.6 yards per contest.

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